Walt Corbin loves trees. His wife Gayle is drawn to the beauty and solitude of the forest. Together they are responsible for protecting 60 acres of woodlands near Obstruction Pass on the ease side of Orcas Island with a conservation easement donated in 2003 to The San Juan Preservation Trust.
Talk with Walt about the place and you’re soon caught up in the enthusiasm and energy of a man who cares deeply about his land. Over the last several decades he’s worked to improve forest health and establish the foundation for a sustainable forest that will eventually produce quality timber to be milled on-island for use by local woodworkers. With that scenario in mind, Walt has plated over 4,000 trees.
The couple’s decision to donate a conservation easement is consistent with their values and their hopes for the future of the neighborhood. “We see more and more open space being developed, the population growing, the peace and beauty being impacted,” Walt explains. “The Preservation Trust is an excellent group that takes the principles of land conservation and puts them into action; they are forward-looking, and for us that is important. We feel comfortable that, under Trust stewardship, this land will be cared for.”
Two residential sites are defined by the conservation easement, with the balance of the property designated as conservation area. Buffer strips along the county road and neighboring parcels help provide visual screening and vegetation corridors for wildlife. In addition to the forest, there are pocket wetlands and ponds, providing habitat for waterfowl and amphibians, in addition to the hawks, owls, songbirds and deer that are resident on the land.
Donating the conservation easement has helped Gayle and Walt lay the groundwork for the future they envision: “Huge, healthy trees . . . local carpenters and crafts people using carefully harvested wood . . . the opportunity for a family to earn a living here . . . a place that is useful and beautiful . . . people enjoying this little green piece of the planet.”